During the Olympic and Paralympic Games, all the nations taking part agree to support global truce. The host nation shows support for the Truce through practical and cultural activities (see June news) and here are some of the ways the UK is making this happen for 2012:
In Barbados the British High Commission and a local NGO hosted a football match bringing together rival gangs from underprivileged areas – neutral ground for young people who would not go into each other’s areas for fear of violent conflict.
In Quito, Ecuador the British Embassy is sponsoring children’s rights projects, and supporting children’s participation to reduce their chances turning to social violence
In Sri Lanka, the UK High Commission hosted a sports day inspired by the Paralympics for participants with disabilities. Soldiers, ex- combatants and civilians, many of them former enemies in conflict, took part in the event.
In the Philippines the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office worked alongside local people to organise a coaching and football tournament, bringing together Christian and Muslim communities.
In Colombia 8 young sportspeople visited London 2012 as Olympic Truce ambassadors
The British High Commission in Sierra Leone hosted a basketball tournament between rival groups, calling the event ‘Hoops for Peace’.
I found this last item especially interesting. It may not sound like a huge achievement, but the ‘rival groups’ in Sierra Leone have a background of extremely violent civil war and armed conflict. I knew very little about this country and its conflict situation until we interviewed Courtny Edwards, who worked with a medical aid agency just after the war ended in Sierra Leone. Some of her interview features in our displays at IWM North and IWM London. In case you miss them, I’ll upload links to clips from Courtny’s interview next week – more Truce films coming up over August and September as we head towards International Day of Peace in September.
It’s easy to be cynical about these kinds of projects. But for the people taking part – perhaps especially the young people born into conflict or post-conflict zones – it means a day, or maybe just 90 minutes, to play the game and celebrate. Its time out from conflict. It sounds a bit like truce to me.